Thursday, August 21, 2008
One Man, One Guitar, Five Nights...
Well I made it intact, five gigs in six days - including one in a shed. For those that missed it, here is a quick catch-up.
Unwrong Quiz, Montague Arms
Recently declared the Best Pub In Britain by the Rough Guide to Pubs - this eclectic pub is home to some of the best alternative and cross-over entertainment in the UK. The evening was a new version of the Unwrong Quiz night hosted by the unfathomable Mark Quinn, and unstoppable Frog Morris. As usual I was the serious music filler in a comedy sandwich and the audience barely knew what to make of me. It was a fun night all the same and it was great to play two long sets as well as debut our new song in tribute to the magnificent Montague - (Woo Hoo At The Montague!).
Highlights - Watching people sing along with All I Want Is You. Giggling my way through Woo Hoo. Finishing the complicated back-to-back songs The Prophet/Lightkeeper to stunned silence!
Frogstock, Blo Norton
In some ways I should have been prepared having done so many nights with Frog and his friends in pubs across London, but nothing really prepares you for Frogstock. Despite it's scaled down and re-branded appearance this year - as Acoustock - it's still a great event. It's almost too much to Blog in detail here, but suffice to say that the evening started with peacocks on the roof, an art tent and Quinn vs. Quinn Olympics (!) and ended with a live rave in a shed and blazing braziers and fire-jugglers lighting up the night.
My own contribution was very much in the middle of the evening, and with a wonderfully Heath Robinson boom mic stand rigged up I played though eight or so of my best songs as the sun began to set. It was great to be part of the evening and so good that everyone played drums and percussion and many acts formed loose bands as the night wore on.
Needless to say I was very tired the next day, but somehow made it to the train and back to rainy London.
Highlights - All I Want Is Stu - with THE Stuart himself on the duck maraca! Accidentally becoming one of the Blo Boys for life by joining in on their rendition of Angry Badger. The aforementioned shed-rave, with live rapping, beat box, and full band... IN A SHED!! When Frog poured a pint of real ale over my head... I knew it was a top night.
15 Minute Club, Prohibition
From the sublime and ridiculous to the sublime and sophisticated. Despite being somewhat tired (but fortunately not particularly hungover) - I was happy to be able to play at this very well organised night again. You get four songs and they went well if not particularly special. They invited me back, so it must have been okay.
Highlights - All the nice people I met, including Rae, Lawrence, Josh and all the performers.
Fiver Programme recording, The Duchess
Wow, this is turning into a long post... are you still with me?! So Monday night comes around and it's time to return to an old haunt - The Duchess pub in Battersea Park. Lurking in the shadow of Battersea Power Station this is the usual venue for the Thursday night open mic sessions, but this was Monday - so what was happening? Well as part of a TV show for Fiver an open mic night was required as a backdrop and my friend Will O'Durkan had been approached to put on an ad-hoc "open mic" night at this picturesque venue. So Will called, and we all responded - arriving in the early evening with our guitars and songs ready and a few nerves in the stomach. Now I've been filmed before and despite a slight fluttering in the stomach I'm usually not too badly effected, but this was for TV and we were all keen to impress, not just to do Will proud, but to give ourselves a chance of being on the goggle-box. The anticipation continued as we greeted fellow performers and signed release forms, it was odd to be involved in an open mic night where everyone was there by invitation. I cooled myself off by stepping out into the beer garden for a while and considered what two songs I might perform to impress, but not over do it. Nerves would make some songs difficult so I decided on a middle route... up tempo, but not over complicated.
As we all know, in life there are no re-takes, but on TV... well it's just re-take after re-take. Will started the evening off, only to be asked to do it all again, and again... until the producer was satisfied. Ashley - the first act - kicked off, and played well despite having had his wisdom teeth extracted only a day or two before. I was to be the third act...
...and my turn duly arrived (after the sublime Katie and Si) - and guess what?! Yep, the TV cameras all disappeared into the beer garden to film the "best friends" talking about their performance to come. Typical huh? So whatever editing takes place, you won't see me perform on TV (yet) - you might well hear me in the background and you will certainly see me standing at the bar and drinking Guinness (looking pretty good in my Jeffrey Bryant styled outfit, if I do say so myself) - so what can you do? Despite that it was a really good fun night, it was great to see Will and some of the other performers again - perhaps I should suggest to Will that he has invitational evenings more often!
Highlights - Katie and Si performing perfectly as always. Watching the poor girl who's TV show it was having to do re-take after re-take as they tried to capture her performance from every angle.
Live Recording, Monkey Chews
You'd think that that would be enough for one weekend... but no! I'd arranged to head up to Monkey Chews on the Tuesday to get a recording of my live set (and a video too). It all come together pretty well on the night (you will be able to hear the results later today), so I won't say much. I'll let you decide how I did.
Highlights - Seeing and old friend. Giving out a world record 14 CDs after the show. Getting slowly sozzled on white wine knowing that I'd had a really good 6 days.